Thursday, July 31, 2014

Melbourne Shopping

Melbourne has to have some of the best shopping in the world. There are more stores here than I could ever hope to visit in my lifetime. It's a rainy, grey day, so I decided to wander around and pop into a few places that looked interesting. I actually bought zero things, which is rare, but it IS Peter's birthday, after all-not mine! I found a few different options for shopping. First, arcades. These are laneways through a building that connect two roads and have shops and cafés on each side. The shops tend to be boutique-y. Some of the arcades are really pretty.
Here is the Royal Arcade that connects (I think) Little Collins Street and Bourke Street.

 I also found the more-familiar mall format. There are two big department stores on Collins Street- Myer and David Jones- that are comparable to Nordstrom. To my surprise, these stores opened up to a large mall behind them. Here are a few pictures:
Uh oh. I thought I had left the temptations of Lululemon in America.

All along Collins Street there are high-end free standing shops like Tiffany and Co., Louis Vuitton, and I even found an Ugg store! 
I took this picture of Louis Vuitton awhile back, as you can tell the weather is much nicer.
Ironically, it's winter here and I don't think I've seen one person wearing Uggs.

Side note: when I tried to type "grey day" my phone autocorrected to g'day. Which is a phrase Australians actually use, believe it or not. They also greet you by saying "how are you going?" Or just "how you going?" Peter and I haven't really figured out what the correct response to that is yet. Usually we just smile and say "hi." 

My New Best Friend

Here's Chris, my new best friend, exterminating the apartment 
I have never in my life been so excited to see someone. If you have kept up with my blog, you know that the day we moved in, we realised we had some unwanted roommates. Usually nothing really irks me other than spiders, and I wasn't too disturbed by the first one I saw. I thought it must be some kind of Australia beetle. Well it wasn't. It was a German cockroach. Lucky us. 

It was quite a hassle getting the apartment management company to get us an exterminator, but finally they relented and sent someone out today.
Chris arrived this morning and I asked about a zillion questions (I'm sure he thought I was completely insane) but was disappointed when he couldn't assure me that I would never see another roach again. Turns out cockroaches are extremely hard to get rid of, they probably live in our entire building (it doesn't help that we live above restaurants), and he will probably have to come back to re-treat in a couple weeks. Not what I wanted to hear. 

He basically told me that he could keep them to a minimum, but we might see the occasional roach and that either we live in the city and deal with it or we could move further out and deal with different bugs (ie. large spiders). GAAAAAA!!!!!  I asked if I would see any of those large spiders in my apartment in the city and his response was "perhaps." Great. Have no fear, Chris assured me that the hospitals are well equipped to deal with poisonous bites and they all have anti-venom on hand. Wonderful. As he walked out the door, his parting words were "welcome to Australia!" Indeed. 
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Lime

I know for a fact that this is going to be the most pointless blog post I ever write. Maybe the most pointless blog post ever written in history, period. But alas, I'm going to proceed. Peter and I stopped into McDonald's yesterday to get a quick lunch. We feel guilty eating McDonald's in a foreign, exotic country, but desperate times call for desperate measures. We were HUNGRY and we didn't have a lot of time. Plus, as I've mentioned many times, eating out is expensive here, and we've been eating out for all of our meals since we've arrived due to our dysfunctional kitchen (no fridge, roaches and a broken dishwasher). Not that McDonald's here is particularly cheap, anyway, but I digress. 

We ordered and sat down at a table during the busy lunch hour. There were tons of school children, who, it appears, are left to their own devices for lunch. The same goes for transportation- there are no school buses when public transport is so plentiful, apparently. By the way, all Australian children dress in fancy school uniforms. Like suit and tie fancy. Consequently, the kids look smarter. I haven't talked to any yet, so the jury is still out on whether their above-average dress is indeed a reflection of their intelligence. I digress again. 

We ordered, sat down, and then noticed there was a single lime on the floor. For some reason, we both found it hilarious. We spent the next few minutes musing about where it had come from and why it was there. Multiple people, including McDonald's employees, walked by it and either didn't see it or ignored it. 
And it gets better- a man who ordered a few minutes after us took the table to the right of the lime, just barely pictured. Before sitting down, he picked up the lime and set it on the table in front of his meal. This sent us into another bout of hysterical laughter slash confusion. Was the lime his? Did he pick it up so no one would trip on it? Was he going to eat it? Do Australians eat limes PLAIN? Do they sell limes at McDonald's in Australia? 

The man ate quickly and as he got up, we watched carefully to see if he would take his (?) lime. He didn't. We contemplated running after him but "sir, you forgot your lime" just sounded too lame. So there it sat on the table until a group of school kids sat down and one boy said to his "mate" in his adorable Australian accent "there's a lime on this table!" as if he had just won the lottery. We didn't stick around long enough to find out its fate. Maybe the boy took it home. Maybe someone threw it away. Maybe it's still sitting on the table. 

And that, my friends, is the story of the disproportionately entertaining lime. 
Sunday, July 27, 2014

Footy and Parrots

Yesterday we finally made it to an Australian Rules Football game, or footy match, as they call it. We walked over to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which is on the east side of downtown, about 40 minutes before the start of the game. We managed to get decent seats near one of the goals, but we will definitely arrive sooner to the next game we attend, as general admission seemed to fill up quickly. 

The match was a lot of fun! If I had to compare it to an American sport, I would say it's kind of like football in that you kick the ball through goal posts to earn points-and kind of like rugby in that there are few rules, no helmets and no padding. I can't imagine these guys have very long careers based on what they endure in one game alone! I was surprised by how few injuries there were, though. Only two players had to leave the field prematurely, and both walked off on their own. Impressive! No Lebrons here! Speaking of the field, it's circular. 
It's big, too. I couldn't capture it all from where we were sitting. The game has 4 quarters and there aren't many stoppages in play. The whole thing lasted around 2 and a half hours. The rules were somewhat vague to us, but we figured out the general premise of the game. You can see four goal posts in the picture-the object is to kick the ball through, ideally, the middle section. That counts for 6 points. If you miss the middle and the ball goes through either the left or right zones, it's one point. You can throw and kick the ball to your teammates.  Kicking seems ideal because if your teammate catches it, the opposing team can't tackle him, so it's kind of a free kick to try to make a goal, or to kick it to someone closer without as much interference as if you were throwing. If it's passed from one player to another, the opposing team is free to tackle and steal the ball back. I'm sure it's much more complex than that, but those are the main objectives as far as we could tell. 

The sport is concentrated in and around Melbourne, although some teams have moved to other cities like Sydney.  Last night's match was between Collingwood, a suburb of Melbourne, and Adelaide, a city about 8 hours to the west of Melbourne. It turned out to be a really good game! Adelaide took the early lead and for awhile it looked like it could be a blow-out. However, Collingwood came back and even had the lead for a few minutes, only to be edged out by Adelaide in the end. I don't remember the exact score, but I think it was 80-something to 70-something, to give you an idea of how many total points are scored. I took a few short videos on my
phone but can't figure out how to upload them using the Blogger app. Any ideas?

The game itself was fun, but it was more entertaining for me to watch the fans. For one thing, EVERYONE was really into it. There were tons of kids, adults, and elderly people. I didn't see any teenage girls on their cell phones-they were chanting and waving team flags. There were two women in front of us, they looked like a mother/daughter pair, that didn't talk the entire game because they were watching so intently. I've really never seen such a wide variety of fans equally engaged in a sport. Here are Adelaide fans waving flags after a goal: 

 I didn't snap a picture, but everyone wears their team's scarves to the games. 
 I guess people do that for soccer, too, but I've never seen it in the US. Some of them are kind of cute, so I'll probably pick a team to cheer for based on their colors. Peter wants to pick a team based on boring things like stats and how they play the game :). I'll keep you updated on our footy loyalties.

We walked around the Royal Botanic Gardens on Saturday night just to get some fresh air and saw a pretty large animal run through the park. It looked like a possum but cuter. I obviously wanted a picture, so I tried-and failed-to chase it down. I googled it and I think it was indeed an Australian possum. Here's a picture of one from Google images: 
After failing to catch the possum, we walked around a bit more before heading home. 
The fountain in the garden is blue at night. 
Here's a statue and giant flower clock. I'm sure that's the technical name for it. 

We decided to head back to the gardens on Sunday before the game to see them in the daylight. We hung out on a bench for quite awhile watching the birds and ducks. 
I forced us to take a selfie since I noticed I haven't posted very many photos with actual people in them. 
Here's a magpie- kind of like a crow. Unfortunately, these birds are known for "swooping." I haven't seen it in action yet, but apparently they dive-bomb humans from time to time. I'm sure I'll be able to report on this eventually, because if anyone is going to get "swooped" by an Australian crow, it's me. 
The wildlife highlight was definitely seeing multiple brightly coloured parrots in the trees! 
Peter is back to work today, and I'm currently researching refrigerators. Thrilling, I know. Peter's birthday is this week-so we will be doing something fun to celebrate! More on that later. 
Friday, July 25, 2014


This week has been semi-mundane, with lots of chores. Peter spent over an hour on the phone with the internet company trying to connect service before finally just canceling and signing up for a cheaper service through our apartment building. It was a hassle for him, but turned out in our favor. At home, paying for wireless means unlimited access, but here you have to buy a plan based on usage, like a cell phone data package. We have no idea how much data we will need, but luckily our first month with the new provider is unlimited, so we can look at how much we use during the month and pick an appropriate package later. Our usage basically depends on whether or not there is an Australian equivalent to Netflix :). 

We also had the dishwasher repaired yesterday, but when the guy pulled it out of the wall space to check on some parts, we found a bunch of dead roaches, one alive, and a big mess of crumbs and food spills. No wonder we're getting bugs! Who are these people that lived here before us!? I'm no Martha Stewart, but at least buy a freakin swiffer. Anyway, I was far too grossed out to touch any of it, but Peter cleaned the whole area until it was spotless. What a hero!!! I knew it was too soon to declare victory over the roaches...we are still waiting on the apartment management to send out an exterminator. Speed is not their strong suit, we are learning. They apparently weren't too moved by my dramatic initial phone call about the roaches. Their response was essentially "buy some traps and be thankful they aren't as big as the ones in Queensland."

Now for the fun stuff!! We went up to the Queen Victoria Market yesterday to look around. It's HUGE and has everything-food, clothes, even chickens for sale. We didn't buy anything due to our current lack of a fridge and bug issue, but I plan to go back-food was priced much lower than at the store. Here are some pictures. 
This is the entrance to the main market building. 
A meat stand. 
We haven't tried kangaroo yet but now I know where to get some! 
Clothing vendors 
Chickens! I was tempted to buy one but we don't really live in an environment conducive to raising chickens, so I sadly passed. This lucky lady was taking one home, though! 

My friend Sara works for General Mills and let me know that they were running a month long taco stand in one of the arcades (mall) near us. We decided to go check it out for lunch. The tacos were really good-and really cheap ($2.50 each). It was the least expensive meal we have had since we've been here by far! I took a few pictures but accidentally deleted them, so all I have left is this one:  
My taco!  
You'll just have to believe me when I say it was cool! 

We then looked at TVs at an electronics store down the road. They seem to be more expensive here, but not terribly so. As predicted, I picked out the smaller, cheaper one and Peter was willing to spring for something bigger. We didn't really settle on a compromise and left empty handed. I'm not even convinced that I want to have a TV at all- although Bachelor Australia starts next week sooo we'll see :). 
We then stopped into an H and M store that's near us. It was amazing. Prices again were higher than at home but there were still some items in the $15-$30 range. It also had a home section that was really nice and something I had never seen before. I'll probably be back when we start to decorate a bit more. 
Here's a view of the first floor. 
The bath section of the home store. 
Most of the bedding choices were pretty girly, which I liked. Peter didn't :). 

Last night we headed over to the Docklands-an area on the water that mainly consists of office buildings and apartment complexes. It took us about 15 minutes by tram to get there. I get the feeling that they are trying to attract more people to the area for purposes other than business. For example, during the winter they shoot off fireworks every Friday at 7 pm. We went last night and the show was pretty impressive! 
We sat on the water- here is our view across the bay. That's a Ferris wheel lit up in the distance, behind some apartment buildings. 
So far, it's been a fun weekend! Peter is at work today- I slept in and will run some errands here shortly. We plan to attend a football game later this weekend, so I'll report on that in the next couple days! 
Wednesday, July 23, 2014


One of the things we have quickly discovered about Melbourne is that great desserts are everywhere. I have never seen so many dessert bars and cafés in my life, and I love it! We've only really explored the ones within walking distance of our apartment. I can only imagine what else is out there. I don't know how anyone in this country a) stays skinny (even with all the walking) and b) has any money left over with all the delicious food here! 
So far, here are a few of my favorite desserts...if you've been following my instagram you've probably seen a couple of these already:
Hot chocolate and cupcakes at Little Cupcakes, right outside our door. The chocolate here is just on another level. This goes for the hot chocolate, as well. I only ordered 2 cupcakes, but the debit card minimum is $10-this is common- so of course I was super bummed when I had to order a third to meet the minimum. I ate them all, obviously. 
A chocolate raspberry bombe at Lustre Bar, a second story open-air restaurant and dessert bar about 50 feet (don't ask me to convert this to meters) from our door. 
Here's the inside of the bar. 
View down onto the street. We live at the other end of the alleyway pictured here.
It's been a little bit chilly and rainy here, but last night was about 55 and dry which made it a perfect night to sit outside, with a jacket of course. 

I had this amazing amazing chocolate banana crepe at PassionFlower, a cool ice cream/dessert restaurant a few blocks away. This place is famous for their Asian ice cream flavours, which looked delicious and unique. I'll have to try those when the weather warms up. 

Lastly, a small crepe stand on one of the main roads. We haven't eaten here yet because it's cash-only, and we only had cards on us when we passed it. I'm confident we'll make it there before long, though :). 

The only drawback is that desserts, like everything else in Australia, are expensive. You can expect to spend $15-$20 on one of the above desserts. I'd say it's worth it though! 
That's all I've got for now-look for dessert post parts 2,3, and 4 in the near future :). I've been seeing lots of cute little macaroon specialty stores around, so stay tuned! 
Sunday, July 20, 2014


Our weekend began on Friday morning (Peter has Fridays off) at IKEA, where we picked out a few essential items, most importantly, a bed. We spent the first few nights in our apartment on a $20 air mattress purchased from Big W. Needless to say, it wasn't comfortable. We spent one last night on the air mattress on Friday before IKEA could deliver our items on Saturday.

Peter works Saturdays, so while he was away I stayed home to let in the plumber, who fixed the toilet, and the IKEA delivery guys, who brought the bed! After Peter got home from work, we started assembling the bed. When I say we, I mean Peter put the bed together and I handed him screws and read the directions. It only took a few hours and wasn't too difficult. For me, at least. Peter probably begs to differ.
And here's the finished product! 
After putting the bed together we went for a walk on Southbank, which is the area just south of the river and is filled with fun restaurants and bars. It's a very classy area that seems to attract a lot of locals and tourists alike.

While we were walking, these decorative panels along the river began shooting fire out of the top. It was really cool! I don't know if this is a nightly thing or what but it was fun to see!
 We then walked across a waffle-patterned metal bridge to get back on our side of the river.
Speaking of bridges, there are a number of interesting ones in Melbourne over the the Yarra River. Here's another:
On Sunday we slept in and then took our massive IKEA bag full of laundry to the laundromat. We don't have a washer/dryer yet and will either buy or rent one in the next couple weeks. Strangely, we couldn't find any laundromats right downtown, so we went to South Yarra, the place we stayed the first week, and did laundry there. We ate some pizza next door while we waited for our laundry to be done. It wasn't too painful!

In the afternoon we made a trip to Big W (a daily occurrence recently) for some bed sheets and then headed out to St. Kilda Pier for the long--awaited Penguin sighting!! It was a beautiful day, so we walked on the beach, watched the sun set, and then sure enough, the penguins appeared on the rocks! 
Peter with the city in the background
Here I am at the end of the pier. 
And now the Penguins:
Some were shy and hid in the rocks. There were about 50 people gathered taking pictures, so I wonder if they would come out a little further if there were fewer people. This one wasn't too scared, but didn't look too happy either!
And that concludes the weekend report! This week we have some chores to get done-the heater guy is coming to clean the filter and finally show us how to work the dang thing today. Tomorrow, the cable and internet guy is coming. I'm hoping to add the exterminator to that list, as our poison seems to be working, but I don't want to take any chances with those gross roaches. Check back for an update later this week!


Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!



Search This Blog

Popular Posts



Powered by Blogger.



Email *

Message *